Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Tag: daredevil

NOIRVEMBER 030 ~ Lark/Brubaker Daredevil

Daredevil has been walking down a long slow trip for decades and Michael Lark and Ed Brubaker finally showed him what was down there.

And what was down there was his downfall. Which I think he knew all along.

daredevil-116

The character of Matt Murdock has been a fascinating decades long study of how to constantly orbit that noir black hole. He would have slipped in long before but narrative cycles never end in comics and so no one could ever truly just lay Matt to rest in the darkness. But then Lark/Brubaker had the stones to do it and they took months to delicately and intricately exact their midnight plan.

When Daredevil was handed to them by Alex Maleev and Brian Michael Bendis, they had outed the superhero’s secret identity and so Lark/Brubaker had to figure out how to make that work. Their response was to have Murdock suffer even worse in an excruciating plan that’s partially happening to him and partially happening because of him.

Because Murdock’s past is littered with the mess and entrails of his poor decisions. The women he left in his wake, the friends he bailed on, and the countless times he sold pieces of his soul to the wind. No one is more haunted by themselves than Matt Murdock.

Except when he’s positioning himself into a love square where he comprises 3 of the points around Karen Page. Because that’s not weird at all, Mr Mike Murdock, not in the slightest. Well, actually, not for you.

The thing about Murdock is that he’s cognizant of his choices every time he makes them and he knows where they will lead him. But he’s willing to shoulder the burden because he’s a born martyr, and I don’t believe he thinks he can actually survive the mountain of sludge he piles on himself, instead it seems he deserves the just desserts at the end of it. Which is just about the saddest thing ever.

This run opens strong with Murdock in jail for his dual identity sins and while there he starts to break bad. How else do you survive prison? Murdock wants to hold fast but he’s soon showing a hyperviolent side, and he’s making deals with his well sworn enemy, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

By the time of his escape, he’s broken an alarming amount of bones, he’s double-crossed the villain he was dealing with, and he’s absconding with the Punisher, not exactly someone he would normally be teaming up with. Frank Castle even comments that it looks like Murdock is finally becoming more like him, which is your first step in knowing a hero is falling.

Upon reentry to the real world, though not exactly legally yet, Murdock takes off to Europe on a lead. He doesn’t stop to see his estranged wife who herself is blind and fears for him, he makes the choice to play hero first. Because his sense of duty is what too often leads him to making the wrong choice. And breaking out of jail and running away to Europe instead of seeing your wife even once is most certainly the incorrect decision.

Once there, Murdock is lured in by a woman whose special perfume makes her smell like whatever a man’s heart might desire, love, remember, cherish. To Murdock, she smells like Karen Page, a previous love. Because Murdock’s body and mind, even on a subconscious and cellular level, is betraying him and making the wrong choice. The noir path is something ingrained in his DNA.

The entire run is a series of poor choices from Murdock. And it all comes crashing down midway through when Mr Fear, a fear toxin using villain whose only intent is to destroy Murdock, is victorious. Daredevil loses, and had already lost, before the real fighting even took place. And could he have prevented it? I say yes.

The fact Murdock farmed his wife out to other people, the fact he left her alone and unloved, the fact his attention and priorities are well away from where they should be left Milla open and the right villain pounced on that avenue to destroy Daredevil.

When you are a hero, in spandex, keeping a city safe, you still need to make the smart small decisions. Daredevil has been thinking too long in burroughs and not in relationships. He misses the hard calls and it costs him, no less how much it costs his wife who ends up incarcerated and quite literally insane.

From this pivot point, the defeat of a superhero, Lark/Brubaker begin the downward slide to the inevitable. Something Frank Miller commented on years prior was that Matt Murdock had the perfect villain origin story. And yet he never gave up. But eventually he’d have to give in and this is the run where that happens. Much like Lark/Brubaker were handed a narrative bomb, they too handed off something explosive. After a few arcs trying to piece his life back together, Murdock eventually falls too far away and by the end of their final issue, he has become a villain himself. For the greater good.

In trying to best The Hand organisation of ninja, Murdock gives himself to them to stop the Kingpin taking control of them, which he knows will be bad for him and everyone. But suddenly becoming the leader of a known assassin squad is apparently also detrimental to your health and so Murdock suffers. But that all comes later, in SHADOWLAND, and such, but Lark/Brubaker leave him doing what he’s always done best, we leave Murdock walking down, forever down, certain he can make it work.

The next we see him, he’s wearing a black suit. The French would describe it was noir.

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NOIRVEMBER 004 ~ Elektra

Elektra Natchios is a force of pure destruction. She is noir, straight up.

Elektra_3_by_Mike_del_Mundo

And while you could call her a black and white character – her world revolves around the binary relationship of life and death – it’s much more apt to describe her as a red lady. Because red is the colour of passion, of anger, and most importantly blood. It is life, and it’s the life you leave or the life you take.

Elektra is the torn result of two worlds viciously colliding. She is beauty and violence, she is a protector and an assassin, she is her mother and her father. She is the walking embodiment of polar opposites, but worse than that, Elektra is constantly choosing the one side on which she’ll die.

An 11 issue run with the character across 2014-2015 was illustrated by Mike del Mundo [with some assists from Alex Sanchez] and written by W. Haden Blackman. This run is easily one of the best runs from Marvel in that year, and it’s a phenomenal study of Elektra as a living and breathing downward spiral, and why she chooses to be this way.

The first issue opens with a split splash of Elektra’s face mirrored and her captions discuss the fact she looks like her mother but very much acts like her father. This split, this sensation of being torn apart, is a strong undercurrent given to Elektra in this run as there are multiple times where we see Elektra mirrored, or we have visions of her future. She is very much a woman in constant inner turmoil, and she always feels the need to choose, because if you don’t then you put the choice in the hands of the world where anything can happen.

Better to have control of your noir story than to be dashed upon the rocks of an organically occurring romcom cut short by precise tragedy.

So we have a woman shattered by her past. Elektra becomes the beautiful absence of her mother and the ruthless focus of her father. She is split, and her life hinges on the dichotomy of life’s absurd at all times. She fell in love with Matt Murdock only to have it fall apart, and upon their reunion by the time she realises she’s still in love, she’s murdered by Bullseye and only manages to get back to Matt to die in his arms.

Though she’ll be back. Because life becomes death, and in her world that can become life once more. Her fractured narrative, halved and twisted as it always is even means permanent things can become malleable. It should feel joyful but in her hands appears more cruel than anything else.

From the moment Frank Miller created Elektra in DAREDEVIL #168, she’s been problematic. She’s been a villain, a love interest, an antihero, a flashback, a return. But she’s always been lethal and the recap page even chooses to describe her with three words – NINJA. WARRIOR. ASSASSIN. – with the final word in red for emphasis. She’s skilled, she’s a fighter, and she’s fatal. She deals in death.

This connection to death, and blood, and red, is beautifully shown in the first issue, right after the split splash, we see Elektra dancing. She is tiptoed poetry, she’s amazing, and around her is coiled a red ribbon. It’s beautiful right until we turn into the next double page splash and the ribbon has become flowing rivers of blood rushing out of the people she is killing. Because she dances with death, and she makes it look beautiful. But it’s still death.

And as Elektra raises her bloody sai above her head, the red ribbon lashes out to form what you can only see as a love heart. She enjoys what she does.

It makes sense because historically, Elektra has been shown to be very good at her job. You look back at how Miller introduced her and it wasn’t long before she very efficiently and without emotion slides a sai into the torso of an informant talking to Ben Urich in a cinema. She kills, for money, and she knows it makes her hollow inside but that’s how she wants it. The murder of her father gutted her, and the slap in the face that inevitably comes from loving someone else and losing them teaches her not to try and fill that hole. So she cleanses herself with fire.

Upon this salted ground, Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackman declare their run an exploration of what it might take to force change upon this immovable object. And in doing so they wrest all agency back into her hands moving forward. The opening sequence of blood ballet discusses Elektra as seeing herself as “only reflections that belong to someone else.” She is only important in ways that are pivotal to others. And while she dreams of other occupations, other things to be, even when she is truly herself she knows she is still “someone’s assassin.” It’s still relational to others and over the course of this run that centrepoint changes in one very crucial way.

It all begins with a small shift, a nanometre of change to the usual scheduled programming. Elektra sees the Matchmaker – a hook up for killer contracts – and she is given a gig where the money is high but the job profile is different. Whereas everyone else will be hunting a retired killer known as Cape Crow, Elektra will be attempting to bring him in. This isn’t an execution, it’s a stay from one. It’s a rescue mission, of sorts. It’s something new and Elektra takes the job.

As she hunts down the whereabouts of Cape Crow, Elektra manages to form a team of sorts [if you want to align comparisons to the Scoobies, you can – Ms Natchios will kill you for doing it, though]. She stumbles across Kento Roe, a young gentleman and son of Cape Crow who is just looking to protect his old man. Though he lied about the funds to make this actually happen. And yet Elektra doesn’t kill him, she continues to look for Cape Crow and you can see she’s softened already.

But to say it’s a softening is a misnomer because it belies weakness, it might cause us to consider Elektra as less when this is most certainly not the case. Calculating is the word you were looking for.

It’s fitting that initially placed in direct opposition to Elektra is Bloody Lips – an Australian bastard who wears a lion’s head and eats the memories and abilities of others. He’s ghastly and laser focused and his one goal becomes to eat of Elektra, to feed of her life and her energy. Their dance is one that can only end in one manner and the longer the music builds, the greater the anticipation sits on all our tongues. But first, we need to know how Elektra will taste, we have to analyse and wonder and hope. And so her flavour is shown to us.

Amidst the chaos and the hunt, Elektra sets off to the underwater city and as she sinks like a biological depth charge she considers the water around her and thinks that “In the silence of the deep, there was just one voice–my own.” Because solitude would mean no consideration of others. It would mean she would have control.

Before Elektra can find herself alone, she faces her ultimate ‘other’ – her mother. In an altercation with Bloody Lips, Elektra stabs him in the head as he chokes her underwater. Both wake in a purgatory fugue state and Elektra’s mother instantly points out the folly of Elektra’s ways and deeds. It’s a brutal showdown until Elektra takes control of it all. Because her mother wants her to see her life as wasted, as boorish, as having no opportunity to make positive change. But all Elektra sees in the faces of those she has slain are the faces of killers and monsters. She only sees vindication in what she’s done and as she considers the orphans she has left behind, she suddenly sees how her own life plays into this wheel of depravity and change. The daughters of these monsters were better off left alone in a world without their parental problems rather than condemned to a lifetime to repeat the sins of their parents. Elektra finally understands how she was made, this origin of blood and fire, was most certainly for the best.

This is the first step towards Elektra owning her past and therefore her future. She’s not a past victim, she’s an emancipated warrior with any opportunity available to her.

This ability to harness her past, to own her suffering, to flip from being attacked to attacker personifies in the counter-attack she pours into Bloody Lips by actually slicing her hand and allowing him to feast upon her blood. Her essence proves too strong for him and seemingly drives him mad. Elektra is far too strong a woman for him to handle. So then she kicks him off a snowy cliff. It’s most assuredly a long way down for him.

As the case then further progresses, Kento, Matchmaker, and Elektra protect Cape Crow, they fend off would be assailants, and the day could be described as being saved. It’s not an easy path. The group goes on the run and Elektra protects them by inflicting the fight and the pain outwards onto their attackers. Our eponymous hero as protector comes to the fore and a showdown looms with the Assassin’s Guild and so she cuts her troupe loose. A choice she says is “Because I do not want to bury any more of my friends.” And yet you can’t help but wonder if maybe Elektra still wants to play all of this solo. If maybe she isn’t certain how she’ll turn out, and if protector isn’t a role she can keep up forever.

As the Hand, and a somewhat rejuvenated Bullseye, all converge on Elektra as she tracks the leader of the Assassin’s Guild, it almost feels like Elektra is being put back into her box. Alone, out for blood, and in the mist with the thieves of life once more. She must face her past within Bullseye, the man who once murdered her. She must assess all that she is and all that it’s for and come to the realisation that it’s a zero sum game.

She then steps up with a clear head and plays her role perfectly, dispatching many Hand ninja, taking Bullseye down once more, and then the final twist comes and it’s the final and definitive lesson for our recidivistic assassin.

Bullseye is blessed with a re-up for life as the Hand brought him back. As such, he bests Elektra and completely obliterates her skull. She wants to fight on, it’s what her DNA does, but she is down.  The lust to dive back into the fray is stronger than the flesh and she is held in limbo and yet she still manages, but it’s not to kill. The leader of the Assassin’s Guild is a small girl. Bullseye attacks her as well – because of course he does – and Elektra cannot bare to see someone else murdered by Bullseye. She doesn’t want anyone else pushed into their future six feet under by another psychopath.

In the end, Elektra fights for good. She always has.

It’s just always felt so very very bad. And dark. And bloody.

She slingshots out of her injuries to stage one last attack and while it doesn’t kill Bullseye, it damages him enough to send him limping away. He exits with a flick and attempts to replay the last time he killed her with a playing card slice across the throat. Elektra deflects the flat missile but it instead finds a new trajectory right across the little girl’s throat. Bullseye doesn’t even need to say it.

Stephen King once wrote [in the Dark Tower series] that ‘ka is a wheel’ – meaning that life and destiny go around and around. And so do we. Maybe we learn a few lessons and we’re better prepared next time we come across the same hurdle. Hopefully.

Elektra finds herself in a remarkably similar position to her first murder and she’s faced with two choices moving forward. She follows Bullseye to finish the job, and no doubt leaves the girl to bleed out, or she stays to aid the girl, allowing her sharpshooting nemesis to escape. Elektra is a killer and yet she chooses to protect. Furthermore, she chooses to actively save.

Albeit with the caveat that she is given the Assassin’s Guild. She saves so that she may be given the opportunity to destroy.

And this is Elektra’s final lesson and change on the ka wheel. She has become a hero, for the moment, she’s saved a life, and she finds herself chatting with Maria Hill about her heroic deed. But she’s not going to stick around the celebrate a life when there is walking death out on the streets everywhere. Elektra launches into the water, off to begin her new life. A life that’s filled with agency and purpose now.

The coda of this run has Crossbones and Sidewinder summoned to a Guild meeting whereupon they find Elektra instead. And she’s not here to convene business, she’s here to bury the Guild. Her final line is “I’m here to destroy it.” And it’s nice to see her referring to herself, no longer just a reflection of someone else or their thing to be owned, and she’s using an active verb. She has her own ideas, her own mission, and the goddamn wherewithal to do whatever she must.

Elektra has spent decades being someone else’s something. After this insanely well structured and delivered run from del Mundo/Blackman, she is now left as a lady of independent means, who knows what she wants, how to get it, and will get it herself.

Though it’s hard not to see Elektra is merely choosing the ‘right’ kind of killing, and that sort of activity will still leave you hollow, as we know she’s always wanted. She has accepted her noir ending, and is in fact using it for her own gain and the betterment of the world. Her downfall is our updraught, and that might just be the definition of bittersweet.

Thoughts on Character V Icon

Been thinking a lot about Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Elektra, and Danny Rand/Iron Fist.

Art by Louie Joyce

Art by Louie Joyce

I love all three of these characters, some sliiightly more than others, and recently had reason to consider why as I read three of their comic series, watch one of their TV shows, considered the possibility of another being in that show next season, and am really champing at the bit for the last one’s tv series to come.

And in all this internal musing, I realised some things:

I like Matt Murdock the most of all. The guy fascinates me and there’s a reason I call him my favourite character in all of modern literature; he’s spectacular to observe and he brings some of the rawest emotion to the page. And I also dig Daredevil but it’s never been about the suit for me, it’s the man.

I love Elektra in crazy depths and ways. And the fact there’s no separation between the woman and the ‘costume’ intrigues me dearly. She is a singularity, a source of her own power, and when she’s done well [see the recent book from del Mundo/Blackman] she’s just mentally absorbing at all times. Like looking at a gif of a lion eating a small village.

And then there’s Danny Rand. Well, I can say I love Iron Fist. The visual, the kung fu, the villains, the seven capital cities [+1]. Iron Fist miiight just be my favourite superhero, but Danny Rand is not my favourite man. Y’see, Danny Rand is lacking in character. I realised this walking the other day as I listened to an old Word Balloon chat with Fraction about Aja’s HAWKEYE and I saw/remembered how Barton and Rand look very verrrry similar. Blonde dude, that’s about as deep as we ever got into Rand’s headspace.

And don’t get me wrong, I loooove the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja run. But it’s all pulp, killer crazy fun, and not as huge in the character stuff. I mean, it’s there, but doesn’t feel as defining. In fact, if we think we know Danny Rand, I’d think again. We know some, but how much is there. We know his father died, betrayed, and his mother died, protecting. Then he partnered with Luke Cage. And he dated Misty Knight. Did these things change him?

I feel like Danny Rand is still [still] haunted by the death of his father. Something Murdock and Elektra share but have also moved on from [and I’m not saying you have to forget the death of your father but it can’t define you forever, and surely you add to those experiences]. Rand’s very latest title has been all about his dad. He keeps going back to the same girlfriend. He feels on a loop.

Whereas Murdock has dated many women, endured many problems, built and rebuilt an insane rogue’s gallery. When I think of Murdock, I think of a man broken by the erosion of emotional years, by the fact he goes back to the well and drinks the new poison on offer. And Elektra has gone from Daredevil’s girlfriend to this other beast, a remorseless killing machine, a woman after redemption, a dead Skrull. When I think of Elektra, I don’t straight up think of Murdock, I think of how cold she has become, a process that took time, and resurrections, and a whole history of events. Now we have Rand, a guy…yeah, a guy. He’s still bent outta shape by the death of his parents, he fights well, his kung fu is superb. But none of that is as openly telling about the person as compared to how I just described the other two. How much growth has Rand had? I mean, he did get that terrible white costume, but otherwise all I think of is ‘kung fu billionaire’ but that’s a high concept and nothing compared to the internal twists of how I feel about Murdock/Elektra.

Though props must go out to Swierczynski having Rand and Misty fall pregnant, and even though the pregnancy was taken back [in an in story way] I didn’t mind it because it was handled in a memorable way, memorable in a character sense. Something new on which to build the character of Rand moving forward, because he must move forward.

It seems to me there’s room for a run, or the upcoming Netflix show, to finally deliver us Danny Rand in a way we’ve not yet been shown. I mean, c’mon, he went to K’un L’un for a decade, he lost a formative teen decade in New York as a rich white kid and instead spent it participating in little else but the most gruelling kung fu training you could imagine. Why the ‘man lost in time’ angle hasn’t been greatly played up I will never understand. We know he can be cool, and that Iron Fist is the best ever, but I want to really connect with the man underneath that sweet yellow mask. Until we do, we’ll have cool, we’ll have rad, awesome, spectacular, but will we have understanding, a care, will we get the wind sucked from our lungs by grief or anxiety or glee? I love Iron Fist but I worry it’s only on a superficial level and I want Rand to mean as much to me as Murdock does. Because character comes first. The colour and the cool are just fine but it’s the human connection that will always drive a story home.

Daredevil Reading — BOOKS

I can’t just tell you to read all of Daredevil [though you should] because that’s not helpful in the slightest.

And I won’t just tell you to read my favourites, because I’ve probably done that before, and it’s not helpful.

We are gathered here today because the Netflix Daredevil series is about to start. As such, I wanted to drop a few recommendations in regards to what will go well with the show [or what I think the show will be]. Without fear, let’s move forward:

FullSizeRenderTHE MAN WITHOUT FEAR – Frank Miller takes more than the issue Stan Lee and BIll Everett gave themselves to tell the origin of Matt Murdock and how he became Daredevil. With art from John Romita Jr, this book is pretty fantastic. In fact, Romita Jr is by far and away the star, and it’s worth reading along for the kinetic energy and iconic moments along. Because you’ll notice it’s one of the few books Miller made in a row not cited as a classic of the form. And it’s not as good as YEAR ONE or DKR but it is very cool [the more I think about it, the more the style and energy grows on me and I find myself forgiving the really fractured narrative structure that does not help things] and it seems like it’ll be hugely in line with the show.

FATHER – Joe Quesada’s slightly revisionist run at the character. After he’d reinvigorated sales with Kevin Smith in the relaunch [a fun tale but not something I’d recommend Daredevil_Father_Vol_1_5to go with the show], Quesada did this more personal mini dealing with Murdock and his father. There’s a lot of heart in this book, and a lot of shadows. Murdock is portrayed as this bruiser of a bloke – Quesada think that the son of a boxer might inherit that mesomorphic frame once he started working out. The visual, while not cannon, is very damn amazing and imposing. I think the tone of this book would inform the show well.

Lark and Brubaker’s run – putting this run before Maleev/Bendis because I just love it that much. Prison, old superheroes done modern but still goofy [which is how I’d see them on the show for sure – a mix of insane but still weird and wonderful and yet grounded enough to work]. This is noir, this is crime, this is what I really truly want the show to be. And this run has a lot of Kingpin, sans Elektra, and I think that’ll help inform the show. Just trust me and dive right in. Continuity, whatever, Daredevil is a blind dude, who fights, Page One, go.daredevil-116

Yes, the Maleev/Bendis run – okay, probably do this one first. It’s high crime [think THE WIRE before Lark/Brubaker get all Hammett up in Hell’s Kitchen], it’s gorgeous, and it’s one hell of a long story, again with lots of Kingpin. Lark/Brubaker also told one story, but broken into a trilogy of sorts. Besides some detours, this run is one epic mammoth crime tale. Which is pretty damn cool. I won’t be surprised if the show is as dark as this, as grounded, and as iconic.

Give some Stan the Man issues some love – just because. It’s the foundation and while the book has veered far, sometimes it’s interesting to note where it all started. You can probably jump around, not everything was awesome. Read the first Namor issue, get deep into that Mike Murdock insanity [I hope the show gives us a hint of how unhinged Matt Murdock is], there’s goodness to be found in random places.

As for Frank Miller, you can try his original run, but I’m not sure it’ll be good as lead up to the show. I don’t know, I keep flip flopping about it. In the end, I’d need to see the show to see if this’ll help. The show has Stick, which is in this run, and Kingpin is the big bad [as in the show] but the Kingpin arc heavily features Elektra, as well as some other weird stuff that I don’t think will get a run on the show. So I’m voting to wait on this one. It’ll be great for reading after this season, I think, but for now, let’s leave it off the table – or, know it’s amazing but won’t necessarily be the intro to the show you might want/need. I feel they might save Elektra  for Season 2 [feeling that = me hoping it real hard]. The tone will all be there but I don’t think content wise it’s for this season, to be honest, and I think it’ll work great post-S1 [pure speculation] so take this paragraph with a grain of salt.

dd-quesada-772aaAs for the elephant in the room, BORN AGAIN, I just don’t see that story hitting this season at all. It’s a masterpiece [until the final reel, Nuke sucks, come at me, brocetera] but I don’t see this influencing the small screen nearly as much as peeps like Lark and Bendis, et al.

But don’t let me stop you reading any Daredevil. You want to get into the San Fran days with Black Widow, roll on, soldier. You’ve heard gigantic words used on the Samnee/Waid run, shine on, brother. Wanna get down with the insanity of the Gerber run, aw yeah, do that. I would tell you to hold off on the Chichester run because I think Marvel would be crackers not to mine his use of Typhoid Mary for a later season [with obvious grabs from Romita Jr/Nocenti who created that character], but I guess only time will tell.

The above runs, though huge, will get you set up for the Daredevil show. I think. You can also hit my link farm to get the more didactic news on our man Murdock. Then just get ready for what’s sure to be blind good times.

Daredevil Reading — LINKS

I’ve spent a good deal of my adult life writing/talking about Daredevil. I have no regrets.

With the Marvel/Netflix show fast approaching, avow yourselves of these words/columns/books/interviews/chats/lists by me and get caught up on the Scarlet Swashbuckler. Go buy some new trades, go read some old friends, go gift some knowledge to a peep, go online and ask some questions, go become a hornhead like me/us.

Below I present to you a series of links to stuff I’ve written or been a part of about Daredevil. Read the links below and get caught up on the best Daredevil stuff right before the show starts so you can settle in, know the lay of the land, appreciate the no doubt myriad easter eggs coming, and get down with my favourite character in all of literature.

BUT FIRST, BUY MY BOOK ABOUT DAREDEVIL HERE – The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil – edited by me, with essays by me, Tim Callahan, Julian Darius, Kevin Thurman, Forrest Helvie, and more – available from Sequart

Okay, here’s the Daredevil links, enjoy.

THE DAREDEVIL DIALOGUES — a longform discussion I did on CBR way back when with Tim Callahan who invited me in for a guest column to chat with him about Daredevil and we ran long. Way long. So for a month, Tim posted all about us and Daredevil and we got through all of the first volume.

PART I – PURPLE MEN AND HEPCATS – In which we discuss the Stan Lee era, gush over Mike Murdock, and wonder if Daredevil really is a noir character or not.

PART II – THOMAS, CONWAY, AND GERBER IN FRISCO – In which we discuss the post-Stan era, with DD in San Francisco, his dating times with the Black Widow, and why Steve Gerber’s run is a spectacular failure.

PART III – FRANK MILLER RISES – Yep, the Miller works, and it’s all important, do not miss this one.

PART IV – TECHNODEMONS FROM FRANCE – In which we discuss Nocenti’s run, I get way down on my love for Typhoid Mary, and her ‘final’ issue which is an insane piece of cape debauchery, and it becomes clear I am the only person who dug on Laurent Levassier.

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ROBOT 6’s SIX by 6 – SIX LARGELY IGNORED DAREDEVIL STORIES WORTH TRACKING DOWN

In which I discuss 6 Daredevil books that get little to no press, no one knows about them, even less people gush about them, and you need to track them down post-haste.

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OPENING CONTRACT DAREDEVIL #82 by me + Dan Hill

In which Dan and I spent a long time discussing one panel from the Lark/Brubaker run on Daredevil (SPOILERS – my favourite run of all time) and we discuss how this very first panel of their run sets everything up tonally.

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ManWithoutFear.com Interviews Ryan K Lindsay

In which I discuss my love of Daredevil, and I generally feel honoured to be among those interviewed by this Daredevil fan site – PROTIP: click through to the site and just read it all, every post, thank me later.

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ComixTribe Interviews Ryan K Lindsay

In which, I drop a little more knowledge about my book [sorry, peeps, always be closing], and I discuss what Daredevil would look like if I got a chance to write the book.

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MY TOP 10 DAREDEVIL RUNS

In which I let you know which 10 runs I dug the most, in order, and why. It’ll tell you just as much about me as it does our man Murdock but it’ll also give you some ideas of what to buy or reread as we get closer to the show.

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The Spire Discusses Daredevil with Ryan K Lindsay

I had a big chat with Steve Morris after the first pieces of this show dropped on us. A good chat centred more around the specifics of the show, or what we then knew of it.

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I am pretty insanely excited about this show. I hope you are too, and if not, again, read the links above, you soon will be.

Let’s do this.

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Chatting NYCC Daredevil TV News at The Spire

Steve Morris at The Spire was kind enough to hit me up with some cool Qs and thoughts about the NYCC Daredevil TV announcements and pics.

A DEATH DEFYING DAREDEVIL DISCUSS WITH RYAN K LINDSAY

See what I think of the look of Matt Murdock, why I think Mike Murdock needs to be in the show, why Nuke never should be, and why I’m excited for this Netflix/Marvel jam.

And I truly am excited, I feel like the tone of this show is going to hit us hornheads and scarlet swashbucklers right in our DDs, if you know what I’m saying.

I mean, look at this Quesada art, it’s on point.

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I look forward to seeing a grounded, urban, witty, violent, fantastic Matt Murdock on my small screen as soon as I possibly can.

Oz Comic-Con Adelaide 2014 Plans

For the first time in my life, I am going to be in Adelaide. I’m looking forward to it but also know I won’t see much of Adelaide because I’ll be in the con, and at the bar, and back in the con. But I’m looking forward to it anyway.

Here is an update on what I’ll have for sale on my Table of Four Colour Delights! Though if you look on the map it’s only labelled as Table A6.

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THE MANY HAROLD HOLTS OF SPACE AND TIME – $3

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The critically lauded short by Louie Joyce, Nic J Shaw, and me (which first featured in HBVB ONE) is coming to your grubby mitts as a little ashcan you are guaranteed to love, adore, and cherish until you’ve read it to tattered pieces and it crumbles out of your hands as you weep.

But seriously, this gonzo tale of sci fi Australian politics is exactly what you need. Plus, y’know, Louie Joyce art, the guy is a local god.

FATHERHOOD – $5

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My one-shot comic with Daniel Schneider, Paulina Ganucheau, and Brandon DeStefano is an emotional tale of fatherhood that segues into a pulp crime tale but it’s really just about emotional breakdown. It’s also gorgeous and has some back matter by me. Enjoy.

PONY TALES: MY LITTLE PONY TPB – $30

MLP_microTPB-copy

This trade collection of the first 6 MLP Micro Series one-shots contains my Rainbow Dash issue with Tony Fleecs. It’s a sturdy beast and is sure to make a great gift for a brony or little friend (or yourself *wink*) so come pick one up. I only have so many left.

OXYMORON – $30

Oxymoron_Cover copy copy

This anthology of shorts about the Oxymoron – ComixTribe’s resident villain – is a boat load of fun tales of death and dismemberment, with one written by me. You’re probably a sicko, you’ll really love it. Oh, and these are the last 4 copies I own, so hook in quick.

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS – $15

devil is in the details cover

A book of essays all about Daredevil. Sequart published this literary tome, I edited it, I also contributed two magnificent and long essays, and a slew of other sharp minds attack the character of Matt Murdock in ways that will excite and inform you.

I will also have copies of the smaller book, BLIND DATES AND BROKEN HEARTS, which contains one of my essays from the big book – it’s all about Matt Murdock’s love life. It’s a good read.

LEE – $15

lee cover

I wrote a short story about old man Lee Marvin racing death and it appears in this anthology of tales about the crime master. It’s a hell of a pulp read for any grizzled warriors on these endless roads we find ourselves on. Oh, and these are the last 3 copies I own, so hook in quick.

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HEADSPACE

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I won’t have copies of the book – it’s digital only through ComiXology right now – but I have little flyers and I’m down to chat about the book and will sign an iPad if you are down on that front.

PROCESS

I am also always keen to meet other creators and just shoot the process breeze. You will know where to find me.

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CON SKETCHES

Yeah, sorry, I can’t do them. But I’m happy to write a short one page script in your book if you so desire. For reals.

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I’ll pretty much be at my table all weekend. I like tabling. So drop on by, say g’day, let’s do this. Oh, and I might have a panel or something on the weekend. If I do, please feel free to drop in.

What Is Best In Life? – 2013 Style

It’s always educational to reflect on the year you just imbibed. I have to admit, having a new baby (and it making two for the house) and scoring some larger writing gigs meant my pop culture intake was down a lot this year. I kept abreast of the best comics around but everything else suffered. Nonetheless, here’s some stuff I dug in 2013.

Top Comic – FATALE

I read the first 3 issues of this and then completely fell off. The singles I bought kept stacking up. The more I hadn’t read the more insurmountable it felt to catch back up, but I kept buying the floppies and I know I’d get there one day. And holy cats am I glad I did.

FATALE is the sort of comic that does what it does exactly as it should so if you want a crime horror comic then this is quite simply perfect for you. For my wheelhouse, this comic is king. I spent a sick day off work reading like 14 of these issues in a row and it was insane how good this book is. I’ve long been a fan of SLEEPER/CRIMINAL/INCOGNITO and this book ably joins the gang as a perennial favourite. Philips is just at the top of his game now where he’s stacking these panels densely and with intense purpose. The writing from Brubaker is airtight with every word feeling like it slipped from an aging paperback. The pacing and plot are great but there’s a tonne of little lines and moments that will stop you and inspire you. I wanted to go write for days straight after reading these issues.

I’ll also say, yeah, I dig this book more than SAGA. And I dig SAGA a lot but this book is just that touch more perfect, and more perfect for me.

Honourable Mentions

HAWKEYE – the top cape book right now (sans capes). This book does so many things right and it’s a process treasure trove.

THE MASSIVE – I love the singularity of this book, it’s like nothing else. The characters all pop, the art teams are so damn fine, and I’m liking the whole painting this story provides.

SEX CRIMINALS – I did not see this coming at all. This romance comic (and that’s what it is) is so damn real and beautiful. This should be the only Valentine’s Day present anyone ever needs again.

LOCKE & KEY – it finally ended and I’m so damn sad.

EAST OF WEST – another entry I was dubious about and yet caught up on the first trade’s worth of floppies and my oh my this book is tight. Hickman delivers a slew of simply amazing lines and Dragotta’s always been great.

ULTRANOVA – my favourite indie one-shot this year, Peterson and Ferrier drop a cerebral sci fi tale that stuck with me all damn year. Buy it on the cheap right here and thank me later!

HIGH CRIMES – the best Monkeybrain book by far this year, Moustafa and Sebela craft this beautiful and intricate character study amidst high altitude crime shenanigans. Also, possibly the best covers of the year.

FIVE GHOSTS – Man, this pulp massacre is just fun to read and so pretty to look at.

DAREDEVIL – Samnee and Waid brought me right back into the fold this year. Some great stories and always gorgeous.

THE WAKE – this is basically an action movie with solid characterisation and I’m digging these mermaids.

SAGA – it is a very good book, don’t you know?

STRANGE NATION – I know I write a column in it, but that doesn’t stop this book thoroughly entertaining me with every issue.

D4VE – only one issue dropped but it was so good. Ramon and Ferrier are doing a book like nothing else, and the sort of thing that should insta-open any door in the industry.

BLACK SCIENCE – I finished reading this and could see the problems with it and yet didn’t care because it was so much fun. I like fun comics.

Special Shout Out

FEAR AGENT LIBRARY EDITION VOL 1 – I finally read this beast and it was beyond brilliant. The art at that size is like nothing else. Remender feels really pure and raw in these pages. It’s pulp sci fi. There is every reason for me to love this book. I don’t even mind that Vol 2 keeps getting delayed. if it’s going to come out this good, I’m happy to wait.

Top Book – Fiction – JOYLAND

This tight pulp thriller from Stephen King through Hard Case Crime was better than I had expected. King is back on a high for me after the very very good 11.22.63 so I hoped for this and he really delivered. The overall plot isn’t too insanely intricate, and parts of the resolution do less than wow, but the craft with which King plans and executes his chapters is like a study of razor precision. There are many great lines in this book and that’s something I really appreciate now – someone who beyond plot knows how to use their words.

This also has me hoping for DOCTOR SLEEP to be good. I’m a fifth of the way in, and I’m enjoying it, and I’m such a fan of THE SHINING that it has to prove itself as good enough to exist so here’s hoping for the coming weeks/months.

Top Book – Non-Fic – MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY

This was a stellar read. I’m kind of the ideal audience as I love comics but also love the behind the scenes malarkey just as much but I cannot state enough how interesting some of the history of Marvel Comics really is. As someone who kind of knew some of this, and knows all the people and characters, this was a perfect read. Sean Howe did a very good job assembling this.

Top Movie – PACIFIC RIM

I’ll have to admit, I think these are the only two flicks I saw at the cinema this year. Admitting this makes me so sad. And while iron Man 3 might prove out to be the better film, I give this to PACIFIC RIM because it was just so enjoyable to watch. I haven’t felt that happy and in awe for a while so it made for a very rad night out. And sometimes I just want a flick to entertain me on the purest level. It’s like PREDATOR, brilliant because it entertains. This flick, the same thing. Though this screenplay was a touch more off in places (really off in some) but I could overlook the cheese and obvious set ups and logic holes just so I could get on with enjoying the show.

Honourable Mentions

IRON MAN 3 – a Shane Black cape flick that plays out exactly how you’d imagine such a flick to play out.

Top TV – BREAKING BAD S5 Part 2

Really, how could there be anything else? This show is the great American novel written in front of us over 6 years. This show had the best writing of any and the character arcs were beyond anything else ever attempted and the writing offered it up but every single actor nailed it. The show ended on a perfect noir note. There will be little else this good in our future.

Honourable Mentions

HANNIBAL – this show is my selection to take up BREAKING BAD’s throne. Deft writing, creative cinematography, superb acting, and an end note that if they can stick it right in S2 will show the world this series is a true contender. And I wasn’t even going to watch this show because who the hell needed more Lecter in our lives? I humbly rescinded my first opinion and now cannot wait until February.

THE WALKING DEAD – I continue to enjoy this show.

Special Shout Outs

TERRIERS – whoo, boy, this show was built for me. I really hope it gets kickstarted one day VERONICA MARS style because that would be immense. I also wish it was a comic, and I could write it.

THE WIRE S4 – I finally watched this. It seems THE WIRE is taking me years to watch. But when I pop a season on, I shotgun the hell out of it. And this one was about teaching so it hit me very hard.

Top Music – ENTER THE DRAGON OST

I discovered Spotify and my life has changed. Man, they have everything on there. So I’ve fiendishly been making playlists for projects but I also set up a list titled OST madness and it’s got a tonne of soundtracks on there, and first up is the ENTER THE DRAGON OST. It’s just great, for starters, but I also wrote a kung fu one-shot you’ll be seeing this year and the dna of this music is infused to its pulpy core.

Top Podcast – LET’S TALK COMICS

This is a late entry but it’s kind of the perfect podcast for me. It’s not shilling, it’s just career talk, process chat, open words. Great creators come on and discuss how and where they started and then every step along the way to breaking in and staying in. It’s fascinating stuff. It’s like the best parts of Word Balloon, which I still love.

Honourable Mentions

NERDIST – with the right guest, this show is amazing.

NERDIST WRITER’S ROOM – I find I don’t even know half the names but it’s all writing process (mostly tv but it all rings true). They also now have a comics themed segment of eps on the pod, and it’s pretty good.

WORD BALLOON – always good, Siuntres knows how to do his job.

VODKA O’CLOCK – this gives smaller creators the chance to chat (myself included) and I like that view from the underground, plus Amber is a top host and superb person.

POP CULTURE HOUND – another great interview show, and they get a wide variety of good guests.

COMICS EXPERIENCE MAKE COMICS – this started on the iFanboy podcast and is now it’s own thing. Good, short, clear, snippets of process talk focusing on one section of the game at a time.

THE Q+A – film chat pod where Jeff Goldsmith asks all the right questions.

FATMAN ON BATMAN – when they have the right guest, and Smith doesn’t get in the way, this can go some really interesting places.

Top iApp – WUNDERLIST

A late discovery but something that’s clearing up my head. It’s just making lists and you have the ability to tick off what you’ve done and it moves down but you can still see it all. You can also add due dates, this helps me not freak out too much. It’s also free, which means the world to me because I am cheap.

Honourable Mentions

ComiXology – gotta love the sales.

Zite – an intriguing media reading aggregating/personalising app that’s bringing me new content to read (when I ever have the time).

Coffitivity – this sounds like such a stupid app, but I kind of love it 😐

Dropbox – perfect for viewing the pretty art people send me on the fly.

Top Kid – My Second One

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She is gorgeous, adorable, cute, insane, and constantly learning little things (tonight she played peek-a-book with her towel and my heart grew three sizes). The perfect person to round out our little family.

So, that’s been my 2013. I hope yours was just as rad 😀

Top 10 Daredevil Runs

Daredevil is my favourite character. Well, Matt Murdock is, he’s the real draw. Anyway, over on CBR they put together a Top 10 Daredevil Runs list and it was good but I had to know what mine were. Here goes:

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10. David Mack – because Echo was a fantastic creation.

9. D.G. Chichester and friends – because his LAST RITES storyline is still gripping, plus he wrote #297, one of the best Daredevil issues ever, and one of the best Typhoid Mary stories ever.

8. John Romita Jr/Ann Nocenti – because they brought Typhoid Mary into brutal existence, and because they ended with Murdock and Bullseye really getting deep into their relationship. And because somewhere in between Murdock found himself in a Kerouac novel with Inhumans.

7. Gene Colan/Roy Thomas – because Gene Colan, that’s why.

6. Paolo Rivera/Marcos Martin/Chris Samnee/Mark Waid – because it’s really tightly wound and when it’s good, it’s masterful. The storytelling from Samnee is out of this world, and the Moleman story was haunting, and it’s fun but also so very smart.

5. Stan Lee and many friends – because there’s a whole mess of charm and insanity to love about this. But mostly, it’s for Mike Murdock.

4. Steve Gerber and friends – because he went nuts.

3. Alex Maleev/Brian Michael Bendis – because this is operatic crime at its best, everything works here so well and they end on such a high note. The whole run, this one grand novel, is brilliant.

2. Frank Miller, and Klaus Janson – because he actually produced the best Daredevil comics ever with his entire Elektra Saga. They are the pinnacle. These are must read classics. Even the What If? issue. And Roulette might be the best Daredevil issue of all time. Maaaaaybe (though maybe one of the first Born Again issues takes that cake, those issues are tiiiight).

1. Michael Lark/Ed Brubaker – because this is my favourite. It’s pulpy, and lurid, and harsh, and so much damn fun. This run is exactly what I want from a Daredevil comic, jail, crimelords, Europe, ninja, infidelity, and just a sense that I was thumbing a worn 50s paperback with a gold medal in the top corner.

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I don’t expect nor demand my list align with anyone elses. I think that’s the power of Daredevil, even his core audience is divided and the fact we have so much quality to choose from stands to why Daredevil is the greatest character and book out there.

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If you are curious about any of my other thoughts on Daredevil, you should go read the book I edited, and wrote in, from Sequart titled THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: EXAMINING MATT MURDOCK AND DAREDEVIL. I write at length about Daredevil’s love life, and then I deconstruct why the Lark/Brubaker run hits me so square. Others write about Mike Murdock, and the Punisher, and Hell’s Kitchen, and the whole history is on the table. As a mega-daredevil fan, it’s the book I needed to see in the world.

daredevil - agent of s.h.i.e.l.d.

Note: I also once wrote for Robot 6 about what I feel are the 6 most widely ignored Daredevil stories. Enjoy.

Robot 6 Run My Daredevil Six by 6

In which I discuss; Six largely ignored Daredevil stories worth tracking down

Kevin Melrose at Robot 6 was fantastic to work with and when I discussed getting some press out about THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: EXAMINING MATT MURDOCK AND DAREDEVIL he was completely on board for doing something different. He didn’t want to just post the press release, he wanted to have some fun, so we swatted around ideas and then I offered to write an original article about six relatively ignored or forgotten Daredevil tales. The result is the article you can click through above to read. It was a lot of fun to write, and I hope some people find a new trade they should pick up. For clarity, the stories I discuss are:

Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir

Battlin’ Jack Murdock

Father

Flying Blind

What If … Daredevil Became an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Daredevil #297 – The Termination of Typhoid

Enjoy.

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